wed 19/06/2024

Prince Avalanche | reviews, news & interviews

Prince Avalanche

Prince Avalanche

Cult auteur David Gordon Green revisits his roots, in a warm-hearted comedy

The odd couple: Lance (Emile Hirsch) and Alvin (Paul Rudd) hit the road

Terrence Malick meets Judd Apatow: that was the expectation when Texan auteur David Gordon Green unexpectedly swerved into broad comedy with Pineapple Express. Prince Avalanche finally fits that bill, after three big Hollywood studio films where the Green responsible for the intensely beautiful and romantic George Washington and All the Real Girls seemed to be vanishing out of sight.

Green made it in secret in fire-damaged forest outside of Austin, Texas, as if on a guerrilla raid back to his roots.

Apatow regular Paul Rudd stars as pompous, uptight Alvin alongside Into the Wild’s Emile Hirsch as Lance, the young brother of his girlfriend. The pair are spending the spring repairing isolated roads. Rudd’s thick moustache and Hirsch’s impression of a suburban jock going to seed as he nears 30 render them unrecognisable from their usual roles, but their banter - “a dialogue between two versions of myself,” says Green - is full of unforced comedy not so far from Apatow’s crude but gentle universe. Which maybe shows that in Green’s apparently schizophrenic career, his broad Hollywood comedies are as true to him as All the Real Girls’ aching fascination with nature, light and the perfect young features of Zooey Deschanel.

“I think he may be educationally subnormal. Or maybe have a disease,” Alvin writes of his appetite-ruled sidekick. Really, they’re different sorts of idiot. Alvin’s studiously written letters to his sweetheart and Lance’s weekends trying to sleep with every girl he knows back in town, where on Sundays “there’s no more puss ‘cause everyone’s in church”, are equally doomed projects.

“I get so horny here in nature,” is one of Lance’s epithets, and Green and his regular cinematographer Tim Orr feel the same way. Lance and Alvin’s dialogue is intercut with shots of the flora and fauna of this burnt-out corner of Texas, because of their intrinsic beauty and because, as in all Malick films and Green’s favourite Days of Heaven especially, this too continues, regardless of the pretensions and conflicts of the humans passing through. The pulsing post-rock score by fellow Texans Explosions in the Sky adds to the sense of a bigger picture: that these two confused young men painting lines on tarmac in Texas have a touch of profundity.

Two other eccentrics appear: an old woman raking through her incinerated home for her pilot’s license, and feeling “like I’m digging through my own ashes”; and Lance LeGault’s ornery old moonshine-slugging trucker (pictured above), bluntly impatient of these callow fools but sympathetic to them, in a somewhat terrifying way. The woman, it’s suggested, is a ghost. But Prince Avalanche is too modest a film to really support such weight. Its neatly sentimental resolution, in which lessons are learned and growth achieved, shows how Green could move so seamlessly into Hollywood’s mainstream. This film is what happened when he and two talented actors went into the woods one spring, letting themselves off the leash for a bit. It’s as likeable and light as you’d expect.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Prince Avalanche

Green made it in secret in fire-damaged forest, as if on a guerrilla raid back to his roots

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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